Knowing how to preserve food is a bit of a lost art and it’s a shame. What do you do when you come across a great deal at the grocery store or the farmers market? How about when you’re offered a deal on a bushel of produce that you can’t pass up? What happens when you have a bumper crop of green beans, squash or tomatoes? There’s only so much of any one food you can eat before you get sick and tired of it. If you know how to preserve food, you can put it up and use it throughout the year.
How to Preserve Food
A great place to start is by freezing food. You can cook up your harvest in some of your favorite freezer friendly foods, or clean and precook them and toss them in the freezer. This is also a great way to store fruits like berries and peaches that don’t last long once they are ripe. The only disadvantage to freezing food is that you’re limited by the amount of room you have in your freezer. Make sure you label frozen food accurately and date it so you know what it is and how old it is before you defrost it.
Canning is one of the most versatile ways to preserve food. You can make and can anything from jelly and pie filling to chili and green beans. Canning has the added advantage of not taking up any space in your fridge and freezer. You can store your canned goods in the pantry, on a shelf in the kitchen, or anywhere in the basement. Heck, sometimes I stuff cans under the bed when I’m running out of room! Properly canned food also stores a lot longer than any other method.
Want to learn how to can properly to be sure no bacteria creep in? Check out the Self-Reliant School, where you can learn growing, harvesting, and canning food. They have free resources available to help you start right away and live online workshops throughout the year.
If you don’t have a lot of space, consider dehydrating food. You can start by using your oven on the lowest setting or you can use these dehydrator charts. They will help you determine the correct time and temperature for perfect results. Try dehydrating some apple slices, or any type of food to use in baking and cereal throughout the year. Then explore further and come up with fun snacks like kale chips, banana chips and even dried veggies that you can use in soup.
Another favorite old-fashioned way to preserve food is to pickle it. Pickling involves submerging the produce in a brine made of salt, sugar, water, and various pickling spices. The most common pickled item is of course pickles and it’s a great place to start. But don’t stop there. You can pickle peppers, okra, cauliflower and a wide variety of other veggies and even fruits. Play with it and see what you like. Pickled veggies make a great addition to sandwiches and salads throughout the year.
How to Preserve Food the Simple Way: Cold Store It
Last but not least let’s talk about the simplest way to store food. Things like root vegetables, apples, and cabbages store well in a dry, cool, and dark place. Houses have a root cellar for this reason. Today your pantry might be a good place to store this type of food. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement, you can set up some shelves to keep a lot of produce for months to come.